The Many Faces of Rīga:

A Few Things...

...You Need to Know

  • Rīga is the biggest city and the key economic centre of the Baltic States.
  • Since its founding, Rīga has been desirable to various European powers because of its strategic location on the banks of the river Daugava, by the Baltic Sea, between the Scandinavian countries and Russia, and it has experienced German, Swedish, Polish–Lithuanian, and Russian rule.
  • Rīga is a cultural hub; regardless of the time of year, political or economic situation, there is always something happening – theatre productions, art exhibitions, concerts, festivals, operas.
  • Food is an important part of Latvian culture, and you will certainly not go hungry in Rīga, which is home to countless incredible restaurants and cafes, and has a high concentration of very talented chefs.
  • Rīga’s ice-free port is the biggest in the Baltics, and handles over 36M tonnes of cargo a year.
  • The Rīga airport is located only 10km from the city centre, and has direct flights to over 80 destinations.
  • Rīga has the highest concentration of Art Nouveau buildings (40%) and the most 19th century wooden buildings in all of Europe (about 4000). Additionally, living history is visible on the streets of the city as historical buildings intersperse with gems of Soviet architecture.

...You Don’t Need to Know

  • While in the countryside people are woken up by the morning greeting of roosters, in Rīga it is the sound of seagull cries which wake city dwellers in the early hours of the day.
  • For over five centuries cobblestones have made Riga’s streets unique; at one time nearly all of Rīga’s streets were cobblestoned.
  • Cats love Rīga. There is even a cat house, and a cat hostel in the Old Town (though both are meant for people)!
  • Rīga has been called the Hipster Capital of Europe, due to its numerous creative quarters, artistic locations and venues, and a love for vintage and retro-looking bikes.
  • You can ride your bike on the pavement, and bring it on any public transport free of charge in Rīga!
  • There are beaches right in the heart of town, and the sea is a mere 30 minutes away.
  • Rīga is the birthplace of the decorated Christmas tree, and so we take our Christmas trees very seriously.

Legend of Rīga

There are many tales passed down through generations of our beloved, age-old Rīga, and one of them goes like this: Rīga can never be complete, or else it will sink into the Daugava river. Every few hundred years a spirit emerges from the depths of the river and asks the first person it meets whether Rīga is complete. If the respondent answers that it is, then on the second night he will die, and on the third – Rīga will sink into the water. But, since every inhabitant of Rīga knows this tale, they tell the spirit that Rīga is not finished, and so Rīga exists to this day.

For further information please contact the Latvian Embassy or Consulate in your country, or the Latvian Institute:

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© The Latvian Institute, 2014